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17 Pets You Can Legally Own That Look Like Dragons

Updated on May 11, 2017

Real life dragons

It's no longer a fantastical dream to buy your own pet dragon. Thanks to the exotic pet trade, there are many species that are dragon lookalikes that can be kept as pets. Mythical dragons differ from each other; some have wings, horns, spikes, or plated backs. Oriental dragons are more snake-bodied with whiskers and mammal-like hair, while Western dragons are more reptilian or dinosaur-like. Other dragon designs are unique, like that of Toothless from the popular film How to Train Your Dragon. Most existing 'dragons' in the pet trade are reptiles.

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All reptiles require specific temperature, lighting, and humidity gradients. It's perfectly OK to be attracted to the idea of getting a reptile or other pet for its ornamental value, but be sure to research them sufficiently, especially if you are new to exotics. New owners should also ensure their pets are captive-bred because wild specimens might have parasites, be harder to feed, and stress easily. Some of the pets here are rarer than others and might require some experience, but others are good for beginners who've done their homework.

1. Chinese Water Dragon

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As the name implies, the Chinese water dragon bears a slight resemblance to the mythical creatures with its pointed spikes. You can also guess from the name that these lizards like water, so they require a large enclosure that they can both climb and swim in. You may have seen these lizards sold in chain pet stores like Petco, and they often have damage on their snout from constant rubbing. This happens because they don't understand that they can't pass through glass. Larger environments for them can help.

2. Crested Gecko

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The neat thing about crested geckos besides their stunning appearance and dragon-like crested head is that they are one of the few pet lizard species that don't need to eat live insects. Instead, they can eat prepared powdered diets and insects are only offered if the owner prefers to provide supplementation. Crested geckos are a small lizard that can live in more reasonably-sized aquariums decorated with live plants.They thrive when the conditions in captivity suit their needs.

3. Dragon Eel

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The Hawaiian dragon moray eel is an expensive fish typically priced around $1000, but many hobbyists believe they are well worth the money. They have beautiful patterns and two 'horns' on their head. They tend to stick their head out of caves with their mouth hanging open, showing off their pointy dragon-life dentition. Dragon morays, like most eels, are sizeable and require a somewhat large aquarium. They are also hard to feed in captivity so they are not for beginners.

4. Draco lizards

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A dragon with wings! These small lizards are actually gliders akin to flying squirrels, not flyers, but they are extremely unique with their colorful 'wings'. Unfortunately, they are not a pet for those who are new to keeping reptiles because they are shy, require an aboreal enclosure, and might be difficult to feed. They are also not commonly available, so locating one can take some investigation.

5. Crocodile Skink

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These lizards might have 'crocodile' in their name but they are very dragon-like in appearance. They have vivid orange rings around their eyes for a very distinctive look. They are also relatively easy to keep, with a 20-25 gallon aquarium being an adequate size for a pair.

6. Green Basilisk

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The basilisk is a legendary reptile said to be king of serpents and posessing the power to cause death with a single glance. It's also a reptile known as the 'Jesus lizard' for its ability to run on water. Its stunning features with its frills and crest gives it the appearance of something mythological. They are flighty animals that don't like to be handled much but are suitable pets for owners that can maintain their environment properly.

7. Mexican Alligator Lizard

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These plated lizards come in vibrant blue and green colors. In the wild, they inhabit cloud forests in Central and South America. These are aboreal lizards that are sensitive if their environmental elements aren't maintained perfectly, so they have a moderate level of care difficulty.

8. Jackson's chameleon

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This pet lizard has the horns of a dragon. In addition, they are fascinating; their eyes can rotate 360 degrees and their body type is specifically adapted for tree-living. They have a prehensile tail, unusual appendages, and a famous long and sticky tongue to catch their prey. Chameleons are often recommended for owners with some experience, but a first time owner can own one successfully as long as they research and follow the right care advice.

9. Indonesian Forest Dragon

These lizards are members of the agamid family and are impressive-looking. They are medium-sized animals that will need a somewhat larger and tall enclosure. They have omnivorous dietary needs, doing particularly well with a varied diet. These lizards aren't as popular as others, but they can be found on various reptile websites with classified ads, along with other uncommon species.

10. Bearded Dragon

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This extremely popular pet with 'dragon' in its name is a great choice for someone just getting into reptile keeping. They are probably one of the easiest lizards to handle. These lizards can even make good pets for responsible children. They are the perfect choice for someone who wants a pet 'dragon' or 'dinosaur'. Some bearded dragons can be trained to accept non-live insects. They are omnivorous, so they will also eat plant material.

11. Axolotl

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Axolotls can have the appearance of a Chinese dragon with their long gills extending around their head. They also bear a very strong resemblance to the main character in How To Train Your Dragon. These unique animals are actually amphibians, and in the pet trade they are domesticated versions of a critically endangered wild species. They are, however, prolific in captivity, and relatively easy to keep. They actually prefer cooler water, so no need for a heater. However, keeping them at the desired 66 degrees F can be a challenge in the summer.

12. Dragonface Pipefish

Pipefish are amazing, however they are not for beginners to marine fish keeping. They have a long body, giving the appearance of a dragon straight out of a film by Studio Ghibli. They require a species-specific tank with low flow and a steady supply of live food unless they can be converted to frozen. Pipefish are often kept with seahorses, which can also resemble dragons to a degree. Especially the weedy sea dragon, a species which unfortunately cannot be kept by private hobbyists.

13. Green Iguana

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The green iguana is a very large lizard. They were the stars of many monster movies in the earlier days of cinema, and with good reason. Iguanas, and especially males, exhibit impressive spines in adulthood. As you can guess, their cage should be large...at least 6'x6' feet, but many owners recommend to go larger. Iguanas are strictly herbivorous, and they should have a salad prepared for them daily. They are a pet for the experienced or committed reptile owner.

14. Armadillo Lizard

Armadillo lizards, like their name suggests, can curl up into a ball just like an armadillo. Their pointed plates can give them a dragon-like appearance, and they have relatively simple care relative to other reptiles. This species in unique because they are social and prefer being around other armadillo lizards, so they can be kept in groups which might be better for their welfare overall.

15. Horned Lizard

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Very dragony in the face, these lizards have the bizarre ability to shoot blood from their eyes as a defense mechanism. These lizards are difficult to care for and are for experienced keepers only. They feed on mostly ants.

16. Sailfin Dragon

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Perhaps these animals more closely resemble dimetrodons (an animal people mistakenly think is a dinosaur), but they are also very mythological-looking. They are the largest member of the agamid family, and are very impressive lizards to keep. They are less common in captivity and can grow up to 3 feet long. They are for keepers with some experience.

17. Frilled Dragon

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Frilled dragons have a distinctive defense mechanism. They expand an impressively large membrane around their head to hopefully bluff away potential predators. Just like with puffer fish, you might be tempted to see this in person but it does result from the animal being stressed, so this response shouldn't be induced. What they should have is a large enclosure to support their relatively high activity level.

Do you want any of the 'dragons' on this list?

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    • profile image

      Kayla 2 weeks ago

      I was wondering how much a Crocodile Skink and a Dragon Eel is ?

    • profile image

      Ashton Wyness 2 months ago

      excuse me but I just adore the crocodile skink I just want to know how much is it

    • profile image

      AP 3 months ago

      I think this is still my favorite of all the lists you've compiled. I've heard of all of these except the dragonface pipefish, and several (of the reptiles; I like animals you can handle) are high on the list of reptiles I want if I ever get reptiles. In fact, I very seriously considered getting a crocodile skink a few months ago. Unfortunately, I already pay a substantial sum to cool my apartment to a reasonable temperature in the summer, and having a tank heated to the degree a crocodile skink needs would probably make my electric bill even worse. Since I'm not sure how much the heating + extra cooling would cost I couldn't budget it in, and I don't do things if I can't budget them in.

    • Frida Nyberg profile image

      Frida Nyberg 5 months ago from Sweden

      Very cool list. I've never owned a lizard, only snakes, but I really want some in the future. I want chuckwalla (very plain lizards but I like them), green iguana, rhinoceros iguana, and black-throated monitor.

      But you forgot the great girdled lizard! The "dragonest" animal on Earth!

    • Oscarlites profile image

      Oscar Jones 6 months ago from Alabama

      I for one believe that these are miniature replicas of the real dinosaurs. lizards and reptiles never stop growing. back when men lived up to 900 years, so did the lizards and reptiles, and simply explained, when they have lived 500-900 years, then they are gigantic. the answer to dinosaur genetics lies in the dna history of reptiles and lizards and eels and such, but longer life cycles.. so really you are a dinosaur owner!

    • Charlu profile image

      Charlu 6 months ago from Florida

      Great info and pictures, although I am not a big reptile fan as far as owning one I find them fascinating. Thanks for a great hub.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 6 months ago from Norfolk, England

      Interesting. The Dragon Eel is colourful. I like the look of the Chinese Water Dragon too.